On Saturday, Donald Trump was widely condemned for his response to the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a motorist was charged with murder after plowing into a crowd of counterprotesters. The moment called for a denunciation of white supremacists, as a number of Republican senators and numerous conservative pundits would later affirm.

Instead, President Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” and declined to issue any specific criticism of the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis.

White nationalists and neo-Nazis openly celebrated his approach. The conservative commentator David French was apoplectic. “As things stand today, we face a darkening political future, potentially greater loss of life, and a degree of polarization that makes 2016 look like a time of national unity,” he declared in National Review. “Presidents aren’t all-powerful, but they can either help or hurt. Today, Trump’s words hurt the nation he leads.”

Quite so. Trump inflicted double harm upon the nation, sending an odious signal to the alt-right that it is a valued part of his political coalition and a signal to Americans of color that the president cannot be trusted to protect their civil rights. Right-wing extremists and antifa leftists are both more likely to turn to violence as a result.

That is why it is not enough for GOP officials to tweet their criticism of Trump. His actions Saturday cannot be erased, even if on Sunday or Monday he buckles to pressure from the public to say more. But there is a way to mitigate the damage he did: a bipartisan congressional resolution that condemns white supremacists and censures the president.

Censure is an old tool in American democracy. It was first directed at Alexander Hamilton when he was in George Washington’s cabinet. Senator Joseph McCarthy was censured; the progressive group MoveOn.org derived its name from …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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